Social policies in Brazil: decentralization in a Federal State

Marta T. S. Arretche

This paper analyzes the decentralization process of the Brazilian System of Social Protection, identifying its extension and variation, as well as the determining factors of its current state. The object of analysis is the decentralization of five social policies - public health, education, sanitation, housing and social welfare - in six Brazilian States: Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná, São Paulo, Bahia, Pernambuco and Ceará. The work considers the importance of the following factors in determining the extension and the variation of decentralization: (a) the structural characteristics of local governments - economic, fiscal and administrative capabilities -; (b) the institutional characteristics of the policies - constitutional rules, operational mechanisms of service delivery and the legacy of earlier policies - and, (c) variables related to political action -State and society relations and intergovernmental relations.

Decentralization; Social Policies; Federalism; Regional inequalities


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